How to Budget Back to School Supplies for Kids

February 13, 2023

Tackle the stress of back-to-school shopping for kids by sitting down to create a budget, a shopping list, and a plan.

August and September are the months each year when many parents and their school kids start getting ready to return to school. This means shopping for school supplies, new outfits and shoes for the school year, and more school stuff. 

It can be a hectic time for parents and kids and alike! There is so much to consider like gym classes, sports, clubs, after school programs, and field trips. 

Make this new school year less stressful by planning ahead of time with a detailed shopping list and making a budget that'll help you save. 

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Make a List of the Back To School Supplies Kids Need 

The very first thing you need to do this school year is to make a list of all the things your kid will need. This list might vary each year too. One year they might need an entirely new wardrobe after a summer growth spurt while other years they'll still fit many of their old clothes. 

Make sure to sit down and include your child in the list-making too, they might have ideas for things they wish they had last year or things that will give them that extra boost of confidence they need to start this school year on a good note. 

School Supplies Shopping List

  • Any medicines your child might need 
  • Clothes like outfits, shoes, socks, underwear, gym clothes, jackets, etc. 
  • Backpack 
  • Binders
  • Notebooks 
  • Flashcards 
  • Post-it notes 
  • Pens, pencils, markers, crayons, or colored pencils 
  • Erasers
  • Protractor 
  • Pencil sharpener 
  • Highlighters 
  • Ruler 
  • Safety scissors 
  • Glue sticks 
  • Pencil case
  • Stapler and extra staples 
  • Folders 
  • Lunch box and lunch supplies like utensils, food containers, water bottle 
  • Tissues 
  • Travel toiletry and hygiene items 
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Agenda or planner 
  • Tabbed subject dividers for a binder
  • Locker lock 
  • Face masks 
Download a Back To School Shopping List.

Find the Back To School Sales

Once you know everything you need it'll be a lot easier to find the back-to-school sales that apply to you. Maybe you need to buy your kid new clothes and need to look at the sales going on at clothing stores. Or maybe you've run out of school supplies and need to restock on notebooks and pencils at office supply store sales. 

Some places like Wal-Mart and Target will have back-to-school sales on everything you need to get your kid this year including clothes and supplies. 

Make a Back-To-School Shopping Budget

Finally, once you know everything you need to get and all the available sales out there, you can make your budget. Remember that if you're online shopping, you'll need to do all of these steps in advance to account for shipping times. 

1. Decide on a Total Budget Fund

Start your budget by determining how much you would like to spend this year as a total budget. Looking back on previous years can give you a good idea of how much you might need in a school supplies fund. 

2. List the Estimated Costs of Each Item 

Then make a list of all the things you need to buy and how much they are estimated to cost taking into consideration the sales and coupons you've found. Add these estimated costs together to see if they are less than, the same, or more than your total budget. 

If you're estimated costs are under budget then you might be able to include more items on your shopping list. If your estimated costs are over budget then you might need to find more sales, better sales, or forego less necessary items. 

3. Record the Actual Costs of Each Item

While you're shopping, keep track of the actual price of each item to record how much you actually spent on each thing. Add those actual prices together to figure out how much you actually spent in total.

With all of this information, you can now analyze how you did this year and make adjustments for next year. Maybe your total back-to-school budget needs to be bigger, meaning that another area of your household budget might need to be reduced. Maybe you need to spend more time next year researching school supply sales to find even more affordable school items. 

Keep these budget sheets in a file so you can look back on them later. This information can help you determine how much you need in a school kid fund the following year. It can also help you remember where you shopped for affordable school items in the past. 

Download a Back To School Budget Worksheet.

Put Your Back To School Budget on a Prepaid Card 

One of the biggest reasons things like returning to school can become stressful is because of how much there is to get and do. By writing all of these things down and making monetary plans for each item, you can make sure you get everything your school kids need and make sure you're not breaking the bank. 

One great way to make sure you don't accidentally overspend on back-to-school items is to put your funds on a prepaid debit card. Prepaid cards don't let your overdraft so you won't accidentally spend more money than you were planning to. Take back control of back-to-school shopping and get a prepaid card to help you budget and manage those funds. 

In Conclusion, 

Shopping for your school kids to return to school this year doesn't have to be hectic and crazy. With these simple tips, you can budget and save this school year all while helping your kids have what they need to learn.